Around Holloween I have the kids select 4 sheets of construction
paper......the dark dull colors left over in the bottom of the pile. We
all have those leftover colors that no one wants. Fan fold 2 or 3 of
these, one at a time (in addition, they can fold this in 1/2 the long
way) . Cut these into irregular unnaturally shaped tree roots,trunks,
and branches. Open and notice the repeated symetrical pattern of the
"Paper doll" trees, Tear and cut some dark hills from additional "ugly"
colors. Layer the mountains and hills on a background piece ( stress that
the background piece is not a confining boundry.) Paint on or cut out
some heavenly bodies. Free hand cut some writhing cloud formations.
Paste down, but don't contain in the "box". They should writhe right off
the page. Now layer the trees on top ,glue down loosely. Add to the
forest any dwellings and nocturnal creatures you wish to inhabit your
So... this can be spooky halloween or an environmental study...or both.
Near Valentine's I teach SYMMETRY and GRADUATION
Often kids are frustrated when they can't draw 2 sides of something the
same and there is no way you are going to convince them that things are
OK and more natural if uneven. I tell them I have a trick to solve the
problem. "On scrap paper draw both sides of a heart (or tree or
whatever). Select the one side that you prefer. Fold down the center so
that you just see the side you selected.(Fold the part you don't like to
the back) Hold the fold and cut out on the line you liked. When you open
the heart you will have created your very own heart pattern. Trace as
many times as you need to produce a pattern."
I introduce graduation by tracing the pattern a few times, cutting the
pattern a little smaller and tracing the smaller one. Repeat 'till very
The lesson which follows asks each child to use the concept of graduation
in a composition. Many exciting examples are produced. For example last
years 2nd grade... a series of 6 paper weavings each 1/2 the size of the
last. simple drawing by PI child who can't read...a series of 3 large
waves each with a surfboard and rider. One behind the other increasing
in size as they rolled toward the shore! This is why I roll my old bones
out of bed each morning for just one more year. and one more year.....
For holidays in general I keep a box of construction paper cut to 6"x9".
I have taught several pop-up cuts and 2 sheets makes a card.
I usually plan a "choice day" around holidays. I post a list which
includes several lessons/materials that have been have been previously
mastered (Pop up cards) and 1 new lesson which I teach to a few
interested children. The next "choice day" these few will teach others.
Sorry to be so long...Hope this is useful to someone
Sharon form NJ